Buildings in the Future Could Act Like Giant Rechargeable Batteries

Researches in battery development are now focusing not just on making them more sustainable but also on reducing their weight. And one interesting way to do that is by turning batteries into structural components so they can also be used as a building material as well as energy storage devices.
Cement-based battery 1 photo
Photo: Chalmers University
A team of scientists at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden is working on a way to transform concrete buildings into giant batteries. We all know that concrete is the most commonly used building material, so why not use it to turn it into a battery? Researchers from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering explained in a recently published article how this could be accomplished.

The construction would start with a regular cement-based mixture, as cement is one of the basic ingredients of concrete. Then, small amounts of short carbon fibers would be added, to increase conductivity and flexural toughness. Next, metal-coated carbon fiber meshes would also be embedded, one coated in nickel to act as the battery’s cathode and the other one in iron, for the anode.

The new technology would create a rechargeable cement-based battery with an average energy intensity of 7 Wh per square meter of material. This is not the first attempt to create concrete-based batteries, but past studies revealed low performances up until now. The new Chalmers battery capacity would be ten times higher than that of any earlier versions.

Chalmers researchers introduced this concrete-based battery idea a few years back but they only experimented with using it for vehicle construction. Now they’ve taken their discovery to higher levels, trying to tackle the energy crisis. This type of battery could provide large volumes of energy storage that are tens of floors high while using one of the most common building materials in the world.

There could be various applications for the Chalmers battery, from providing 4G connections in more remote locations to powering LEDs or even turning it into an electricity source by coupling it with solar cell panels. This way it could also be used to power monitoring systems on bridges and highways.
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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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